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Florida Family Law

Justice Peggy A. Quince
From Attorney to Florida Supreme Court Justice

Posted on August 15, 2017

Spring / Summer 2017 
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Justice Peggy 
A. QuinceA graduate of Howard University, Justice Peggy A. Quince was born in Norfolk, Virginia and has two daughters. She became a Florida resident in 1978 and began practicing as a general civil law attorney until 1980, when she joined the Attorney General’s Office, Criminal Division. In 1993, Justice Quince became the first African American female to be appointed to one of the district courts of appeal, when Governor Lawton Chiles appointed her to serve on the Second District Court of Appeal. Five years later, on December 8, 1998, Justice Quince was appointed by the late Governor Lawton Chiles and Governor-elect Jeb Bush to the Florida Supreme Court.

I had the pleasure of meeting Justice Quince at a speaking engagement at Florida A & M University College of Law, where she shared her journey from attorney to Florida Supreme Court Justice. My first impression of Justice Quince was that she embodied what so many women in the legal arena strive to become. Justice Quince’s quiet resolve and thoughtful perceptions about the path of becoming a successful lawyer and Florida Supreme Court Justice were powerful and  long-lasting. Justice Quince offered the law students practical and wise suggestions to help them deal with the “sink or swim” attitude found so often in the legal profession, and those comments have stayed with me long since her presentation.

I have memorialized my lasting impressions of Justice Quince in the following take away tips. I hope these tips serve to encourage females who are considering whether to pursue a legal career to take that step. As for female lawyers who already practicing, I hope these tips remind us of all of the things we are truly capable of, even when life throws challenges our way.

Take Away Tip #1: Get a Mentor

The importance of a true mentor can never be underrated for attorneys. Young attorneys need wise and consistent guidance and encouragement. Attorneys know that those first five years out of law school can define your career, and the support of a mentor cannot be understated. Justice Quince found a mentor early in her career, spoke very highly of that individual, and encouraged the students to find one of their own.

Take Away Tip #2: Do not be Afraid to Fail

Failure early in your practice will happen, but it is what you do with those failures that will define your career. Learn from your mistakes, and make sure they do not happen again. Only those who do not learn from their mistakes are truly the losers.

Take Away Tip #3: Remember that you can do this

Juggling a career in law by itself can be overwhelming and discouraging to some, but Justice Quince reminded us all that the legal profession is a rewarding experience, and that the challenges can be overcome with hard work and tenacity. Even though many female lawyers have to juggle the time constraints of a legal career and family life, they can still manage to make a lasting impact on society, and the world.

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